ERR asked Estonia's MEPs what they consider to have been the European Parliament's most important achievements over the last year. The MEPs were also asked about the areas in which they considered the European Parliament to have been less successful.
Marina Kaljurand (SDE) said, that the most important feature of the European Parliament's activities over the past year, has been its role as a pressurizer, pushing governments to take action to deal with crises.
"The parliament was a step ahead of (national) governments in assessing and imposing sanctions on Russia, but also in proposing how to restrict Russian gas, oil and coal supplies as well as how to fight inflation," Kaljurand said.
"So, I see the role of the European Parliament over the past year as having been the pressurizer, the enforcer and the whip that made governments act faster and more effectively than they otherwise would have," she added.
Kaljurand said that, while some issues have stalled, she remains optimistic that they will eventually be resolved. "Yes, there are some things that have stalled - migration, as well as several digital and environmental issues. They could have moved faster, but I haven't lost hope yet that they will be adopted by the end of the mandate of the parliament and the commission," Kaljurand said.
Riho Terras (Isamaa) also highlighted that Ukraine had been firmly at the top of the European Parliament's agenda throughout the year.
"The European Parliament has certainly shown itself to be very fast at reacting to the war in Ukraine. In other words, everything that happened in the European Parliament after February 24 happened quickly, decisively, and very substantively. The parliament has kept this issue on the agenda in all of its sessions and MEPs have been active in their support of Ukraine. One example was the visit of the President of the European Parliament (Robert Metsola) to Ukraine, the first senior politician to do so," Terras said.
"However, what went completely wrong in my view, was the ban on the sale of internal combustion engines from 2035. This is clearly too short-sighted and certainly not feasible. It will create a situation where the shortage of batteries and lack of infrastructure development will put people, especially those in rural areas, in a difficult situation," Terras said.
Jaak Madison (EKRE) also said that the European Parliament reacted boldly and effectively in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
"While the European Parliament is often very divided in terms of world views, there was clearly a very strong consensus on the Russia issue. And I think it was one of its greatest achievements of all time, that something like this was possible," he said.
However, Madison also believes, that the parliament still has a lot left to do and that its lack of unity on Ukraine began to show in the second half of the year.
"The European Parliament has often turned into a big chat room, where all the world's possible problems are discussed but no real action is taken. And a lot of things have been left unresolved, such as the fight against corruption," said Madison.
"The second half of the year clearly showed, that while there was unity on Russia at the beginning of the year, halfway through, it started to crumble and the interests of the different member states became clear. Some were already demonstrably taking a softer line, while at the same time the Estonian MEPs in the European Parliament, along with other MEPs from Eastern Europe, were clearly more insistent. I think that there could have been a lot more done in the European Parliament, but the political reality is that, right up to the end of this year, there has, unfortunately, been no consensus," Madison said.
Urmas Paet (Reform) said, that the European Parliament has been ahead of the European Commission and the Council of the European Union on issues related to Russian aggression and providing aid to Ukraine.
"For example, the decision to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism and the demand that this must be followed by clear legal steps, and what that then means. This is something that neither the council nor the commission has yet arrived at. Hopefully now, as a result of the parliament's decision, they will take those steps. So, definitely the issue of the war in Ukraine, Russian aggression and support for Ukraine has been the most important. In this respect, I am glad that the parliament has been unanimous and swift in making political statements, which the Member States and the Commission should follow up on as soon as possible," Paet said.
Paet cited the example of Hungary's power to block €18 billion aid package to Ukraine, which had been agreed by the European Parliament.
"This is also an example of, something, which has in fact been a point of discussion for several years - there are certain decisions for which the principle of consensus should be abandoned. Now, more and more, we are seeing what it really means when there is a consensus but one country or another can block the all the others, especially in extremely tough and difficult circumstances like Russia's aggression against Ukraine," he explained.
Andrus Ansip (Reform) said, that the European Union has done well in supporting Ukraine. "There has been a lot of criticism of the European Union. It has been said that the EU has been slow and not helped enough, but the latest public opinion polls on Ukraine show that 95 percent of the Ukrainian population supports the EU. If we were really slow and stingy, it would hardly have been possible to earn this level of public support in Ukraine," he said, although he did add, that he believes the EU could certainly do more.
Ansip highlighted Estonia's role in Ukraine-related decision-making. "I am glad that Estonia has also been very active in issues related to Ukraine and, I dare say, influenced many decisions. Even before the war, Estonia and Lithuania decided to send modern armaments to Ukraine. It was actually quite a brave decision. I'm pretty sure it didn't happen without the Americans knowing about it and coordinating it, but still, in fact, our Javelins and the Stingers sent by the Lithuanians made it possible for Ukraine to resist at first," he explained.
"However, if we look beyond that, from the beginning, Estonia very clearly positioned itself on the issue of granting Ukraine candidate status for EU membership. Without Estonia's strong support, the process would probably have been much more painful, and who knows which way things may have turned out. Of course, Estonia was not alone in this struggle, but Estonia was certainly the initiator and leader," Ansip said.
Editor: Michael Cole